Critical Race Theory as a Tool for Social Reconstruction: Why Consistently Omit Its Stated Purpose?

Welcome to 2022. This post starts a series that once again gets to the essence of what educational practices and standards are intended to act as a handmaiden for–the transformation of individual consciousness. That amalgamation of values, attitudes, beliefs, and emotions that motivate behavior, often at a subliminal level. It’s no accident that the civil rights slogan for schools all over the US and frequently elsewhere calls for Equity and Excellence. It sounds fair and few places other than here at ISC have laid out that the meaning of Excellence is getting at students at the level of what they think, want, and feel as psychologist and cultural evolutionist Mihaly Csikzsentmihalyi (Csik) laid out decades ago. Now he pushes much the same globally as Part of the Positive Psychology orientation of the schools which is why he has a tag here at ISC.

The point is that if education practices and standards, especially when coordinating with the media and think tanks around the same messaging and conceptual framing of real events, can change enough individual mindsets and worldviews, we get a deliberately changed culture. Julian Huxley, the founder of UNESCO, knew that and hoped for it as I covered in my book Credentialed to Destroy. I just didn’t fully appreciate how widely spread and coordinated that common aim to force cultural evolution was when I wrote CtD. That’s what we are talking about here and in companion posts. It’s how this relates to my discussion of the Chinese concept of Tianxia, which has a common purpose and function. It also seeks to use the student and adult’s mind, heart, and soul as instruments to be manipulated by the state for political ends.

I have covered Uncle Karl’s Human Development Society, its ties to Humanist Marxism and need for a Moral Revolution at a psychological level numerous times here at ISC as it just keep coming up. It seeks to use education to target a person’s internalized reflexivity–the internalized process whereby perception affects actions because it is the social world and its institutions that need to be transformed. That is the repeated stated purpose of CRT and its new moniker–Anti-Racist Education– as I will show today. If someone writes or states that Marx was a historical materialist and did not write about psychological aims, they do not know his work, no matter how lofty their title, how famous the publication they are writing for, or how deep the pockets are of their funding source. If someone writes an article that CRT has no place in K-12 education because it is a ‘legal theory’ and should be confined to law schools, they are not familiar with the Bibliographies in relevant sites like this one and what the cited sources say must be changed in K-12.

CRT is a tool to get at individual consciousness. It is NOT a body of knowledge or part of a set of information students are to learn. As that link above from the Center for Anti-Racist Education lays out in “Our Vision for an Antiracist Future”, CRT is about transitioning to a more just future where governments and laws will restructure economies and social institutions like workplaces so that “we look to a future where the promise of equality is upheld for everyone”. Democracy is not about elections so much in this vision, but about a purpose that almost sounds like a Portrait of a Graduate from local schools. As a new book coming out called For the Common Good put it recently, the shift to “a more just social order…is not a morally optional undertaking. The claim that community members have to a social order that protects and advances their ability to pursue a reasonable life plan” is to now be implemented and enforced.

That Vision quotes Nelson Mandela “that education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” and the last Principle calls for an aim to Create Just Systems. That’s Social Reconstruction, even if the author of the recent Conflict Campaign brief on the horrors of state-anti-CRT legislation only briefly alludes to the transition to a more just order as the CRT purpose in her paper being hyped here to inflame partisan discourse around what can, cannot, or must be allowed in K-12 schools. The actual report basically accuses the writers of the legislation of wanting to go back to the Jim Crow era, which ought to be a clue as to how useful this tool of Critical Consciousness can be. Since everyone can read those graphic Principles themselves, let’s jump to the explicit intentions laid out in the References, including the book from the main author of the above paper–Mica Pollock–from 2008 called Everyday Antiracism: Getting Real about Race in School .

Here’s a sampling from that book she edited that fits with the Social Reconstruction purpose mentioned above:

My greatest challenge as a teacher educator has been to help white students and students of color understand that racism is not simply a personal attitude or individual disposition and that feeling guilty or ‘being nice’ are not enough to combat racism. Racism involves the systemic failure of people and institutions to care for students of color on an ongoing basis…[Or] What is often missing in classroom discussions of racial issues is a critical examination of how the concept of ‘race’ has been linked to the distribution of resources…[Using] curriculum aimed at developing young people’s abilities to evaluate, understand, and confront oppressive structures of racial inequality…contributing to the development of a just nation.

Pollock’s Conflict Campaign paper is definitely angry about state legislation blocking the desired use of CRT and the wild accusations of the purposes of the legislation really did not seem to me to track with the language. The reason, I believe, is that the legislation affects the desire to use classroom activities and practices to affect each student’s internalized Identity and Purpose going forward. The section of the 2008 book called “Remember that People are Treated as Racial Group Members and Need to Examine that Experience” told us that:

a core principle of everyday antiracism: students (and teachers) need to process their experiences in the world as racial group members. How can educators assist students in this ‘processing’? Create cocoons for strengthening identities…so that students of color in particular can benefit from some time voluntarily ‘cocooned’ with students from the same racial group, in order to process their schooling and life experiences as group members and build healthy identities as such. Be aware that students of color may need to heal from internalized oppression…[where] racism can involve people hating themselves, not just ‘others,’ and that students need to be assisted to analyze how such self-hatred comes about. [Third] students need to see and treat one another as equally worthy. [They] need concrete opportunities  to learn to value each other equally across racial lines.

Again, that’s not CRT as a subject and it very much targets reflexivity as I quoted above.  It encourages students to change their Worldview, at both a conscious and subliminal level, so they will look for actions they can take “to achieve justice for themselves and their communities.” In this vision reading is not a tool to get information, but a means where students “learn to see the text as an extension of their lived experience and their lived experience as an extension of the text”. I read that and immediately recognized that the hated, but graded on, current high school practice of Annotation was straight out of Paulo Freire’s “reading the word and the world”. It also has a comparable, but unstated to parents, revolutionary aim because it trains students to critique their lived experiences and real world conditions so

educators can link discussions of texts about inequality to students’ experiences of inequality. This  move raises critical consciousness and can empower students to act collectively to transform these structures. Educators must also prompt discussion of how such inequalities can be collectively addressed. An emphasis on critical awareness and collective struggle against structures of inequality should replace the current overemphasis on individual striving as the sole way to transcend the conditions of poverty and racism.

We just need that fundamental transformation as a former US President put it in his plans for what to do to the US once in office. He ought to know since Chicago was Ground Zero for the use of learning standards as a ‘reform’ to push for Social reconstruction covertly, at the level of the mind, heart, and soul. We will cover other materials from the References in the next post. Before I get to one last quote affirming the purpose of CRT in education, the author Pollock has relocated from her perch at Harvard where she first came to my attention to UC-San Diego. Why does that matter? Maybe she just loves sea lions and wanted to be closer to the caves in La Jolla ? Given these stated aims and the histrionics of the accusations laid out in the report I think it is important to know that Cultural Historical Activity Theory (CHAT with a tag) with its intentional plans to manipulate consciousness for revolutionary purposes grounded in Soviet psychologists translated work from Russian is also based there.

Totally coincidental I am sure, just like the major philanthropies involved with the import of CHAT to the West. I will close with a good explanation for why Positive School Climate is so important and manipulable that Obama made it the purpose of an Executive Order in summer 2012 that would make social and emotional learning front and center in every classroom in every school. It went well with his Common Core learning standards and fundamental transformation via education as this passage on Developing Antiracist School Policy laid out near the conclusion of Pollock’s book. The author

works from a perspective that understands racism to include a much broader set of actions and assumptions than racially biased hatred. Crude, obvious, and deliberate acts by individuals are only the tip of a much larger iceberg. While there are no biologically meaningful subdivisions to the human race, social beliefs and daily practices construct inequities around the notion of racial differences…Racism cannot be understood in isolation from wider economic, social, and political inequalities. At the same time, one of the central messages of this collection is that racism operates through countless ordinary assumptions made and actions taken by people in educational settings, as well as outside them.

As we will see as I continue this discussion, there is no ambiguity as to the purpose of CRT in education or its broader aims. It is stated repeatedly, graphically, and with detailed illustrations. Why make criticisms of it about anything but its stated purpose? Why treat it as a dispute as to what to teach in history and why or what literature to cover in Language Arts? Why ignore the revolutionary intentions when evolution is sought in culture?

15 thoughts on “Critical Race Theory as a Tool for Social Reconstruction: Why Consistently Omit Its Stated Purpose?

  1. Lots of communities and school districts are “banning” CRT. It doesn’t seem like something you can “ban” with any real success. CRT-like concepts and influence appear to be instilled in the majority of new teachers and teaching materials. Or at least in sufficient numbers that the orthodoxy can be maintained. Will anything other than homeschooling really help in defending the students minds? Even homeschooling must eventually yield to higher education where so many students have been overwhelmed. How best to protect these kids?

    • A good deal of homeschooling must include an overview of issues that Robin reveals. History includes more than the basis for the American Ideal but also the facts about those who are working to dismantle that ideal. I use examples from Common Core starting in first and second grade levels to reveal the idiocy of the indoctrination that is being imposed on public school kids .

      • Your definition of homeschooling includes a very active parental component transmitting knowledge and actually reading and treating science and math as objective bodies of information and tools, not just frames. Hooray! But its not just public schools to be worried about, if a charter, private, or online homeschooling curriculum is using an Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete orientation, there’s still a problem. This is an oldie, but goody, post that explains that troubling orientation.

        Usefully, it also draws from more of Yrjo’s work, which is why it is so important to recognize its stated purpose and why the alliance between CRT, ant-racist education, and CHAT is so troublesome. Notice how all these advocates want a politically organized 21st century society and they want the organization to be grounded invisibly in a prescribed neural net in each ‘citizen’s’ human mind. Could Mao have had more intrusive aspirations? Can any politician in the West?

        See how dangerous it is that these declared plans for the use of education that can be traced to their original creation and their creators infamous stated goals and forward into now required assessments and classroom practices are too little known?

    • If homeschooling is tied to online curricula, even that may not help. If it is also tied to the ‘formation of the soul’ as its primary purpose, we are once again back in the same realm the CRT education advocates, using their own writings and not any inferences from me, say they are targeting. I suspect that is why after CRT came out there was so much scrambling to redefine Tranzi OBE from what I laid out in book as its purpose with extensive documentation. It’s why I can see PoG is the same function and purpose.

      I saw this in the Pioneer paper pushing the then new Catholic Curriculum Frameworks around 2015. Everyone who had read CtD instantly recognized the framework as Tranzi OBE, just as I have seen in the language of numerous charters and private school mission statements. If the purpose of education is now to alter what student’s value, believe, and what motivates them to act, at an unconscious level so that it is a Habit of Mind and reflexive, that’s Tranzi OBE. That’s Csik’s Excellence. Even when it is conscious, if the frames used to guide perception (i.e. what gets noticed in everyday experience and what is read and watched) and what gets ignored and then how what got noticed gets interpreted, action is far more guided from the outside in predictable, manipulable ways than the student and later adult recognizes.

      The Provider knows the frames though even if the students are barely aware of all of them, much less their parents. If these conceptual frames though (remember they are in the fed ED financed CEDS and are required to be tested (or otherwise assessed) annually for use by ESSA in at least 95% of students as Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) are not present, will those homeschooled students and products of outlier independent schools still pushing (somehow) an old-fashioned Transmission of Knowledge education be barred from entering our so-called ‘elite’ Higher Ed schools?

      I am going to look for the link where I laid it out, but HOTS came out of Cultural Historical Activity work. Its named US architect and co-creator of the Learning Standards from the 90s that are the model for the Common Core per David Coleman Lauren Resnick has worked closely with ISCAR(on its governing board for years. I tagged both Michael Cole and Yrjo Engestrom for this post because they are both now at UC-San Diego where Pollock came to. Both are also involved with the International Society of Cultural Activity Research, which is what ISCAR stands for. I covered Yrjo’s Learning by Expansion when I first came across Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete and Evald Elyenkov’s work and what all these conceptual frameworks can intentionally do to prevailing human consciousness.

      Cole translated Luria’s autobiography from Russian to English and thanks the Carnegie Corporation in the 80s for funding his work. When he was still in NYC, other footnotes thank the Rockefeller Foundation for funding CHAT originally

      I think the only way to protect our children or even adults is to recognize when they are guided by instilled frames in how they see the world instead of facts. History has shown us it’s dangerous for everyone, except those grazing from the public coffer trough, to live life on the basis of theories of what might be. How can a society be productive if few people know much accurately? A society where government leaders have specified the type of mentality and what will guide it that prevails among voters?

      • This is a link to the discussion of Lauren Resnick’s 1987 paper on HOTS.

        It also covers Yrjo’s 1991 essay “Activity Theory and Individual and Social Transformation.” I have also bookmarked some of the other 2013 posts that specifically cover some of what I mentioned in the above post. I also noticed I left off Davydov in discussing the role of Ascending from the Abstract to the Concrete and how it arose originally in the Soviet Union as a new kind of Dialectical Materialism to be used globally with a Marxist Humanism that works better if it goes by its function on Consciousness and Transformational purpose and ditches the “m” word. Another thing covered in CtD going back to the 60s with reforms we can still recognize today in Competency Frameworks.

  2. I’m reading through the “Conflict Campaign” monograph tonight, and it is a cornucopia of gaslighting and gagging intellectual dishonesty the likes of which only someone who has spent many years, as I have, studying the social justice Left from the horses mouth, can long tolerate while staying sober.

    And even then, one must flog oneself to digest it. That this ideological tract (which is all it really is) was written by people with Master’s and Ph.D degrees is testament to the unbelievable disintegration of modern academia just within my lifetime.

    One thing about it, however, is that anyone who has heard, time and again, leftist media talking heads or NPR commentators swear to the heavens that CRT is not being taught in K-12, will find that this monograph will quickly disabuse anyone of that claim, as there are numerous admissions throughout the text that it has been vigorously pursued in K-12 for at least two years post-Floyd (and, in reality, for several decades at least in the form of “multicultural” education).

    The Left can’t keep its stories straight for the life of them, but they try mightily.

    • Yes and I have been on the webinars that explicitly laid out that intention and the means. I also do not think it is coincidental that Culturally Responsive Teaching has the same acronym, advocates, and practices. This is a quote from the “Staying Hopeful” essay in Pollock’s book:

      Human beings build the history, culture, and situations that they live. Critical consciousness emerges from the effort to grasp that the given limits are not fated realities but obstacles and boundaries created in the course of human events. The struggle for justice is realized ‘by way of the breach with the real, concrete economic, political, social [and] ideological order’ and embodied in specific actions that aim at remaking the world.

      That’s my bolding. CRT is NOT about boosting self-esteem by covering less well-known episodes in American history involving People of Color. Social Reconstruction is not just a clever title. It’s the whole revolutionary ballgame. This is the rest of the paragraph quote from the ed prof author.

      Justice is not achieved once and for all in some cataclysmic upheaval, but rather step by step, situation by situation, particular context by particular context. Sometimes, in unpredictable moments of history, localized changes expand rapidly into transformative leaps that reshape an era. But even these leaps rely entirely on the innumerable small steps that precede and sustain them. Revolutionary hope identifies possible actions despite situational limits; it recognizes that justice requires ongoing work and struggle. It is precisely the embodiment of the work and struggle in a way of life that avoids the trap of despair.

      Ignoring the Revolutionary intent of this desired shift in consciousness ignores the whole point. It is like pretending John Dewey was merely an ed prof when he was actually a philosopher who wanted to make K-12 education the tool to transform consciousness. AS CtD covered, it was why the Russians used their precious hard currency to translate his work before they had really secured the final outcome of the Bolshevik Revolution. The ‘Conflict Campaign’ is so angry because these stautes impede the revolution, but why are the advocates so unwilling to also cover the declared intent behind CRT?

      • Oh my gosh Mika Pollack is white! Parents (are starting to) need to realize these mad professor types are out to destroy kids’ minds, as your book title describes Robin. They truly could be helping kids! Instead they are soul grabbers. It’s like the art of war, but against our all our kids’ potential. It may appear it’s working, but the Lord’s sunshine is mega Brighter than they are, 🙂

        • Mica’s work shows up in this quote from a recent CARE brief:

          Recognizing race and confronting racism means
          turning away from “colorblind” or what Mica
          Pollock has called “colormute”12 environments that
          are harmful for educators and learners alike. In
          experimental interdisciplinary research, “colorblind”
          approaches have been shown to increase racial
          anger and fear,13 generate prejudice,14 and reduce
          empathy15 among white people. For students of
          color, “colorblind” approaches increase feelings of
          self-blame and internalized oppression.16

          Recognizing race and confronting racism
          in the classroom means teaching about the
          social construction of race and the processes of
          racialization that all learners experience. This work
          must start in early childhood. As Van Ausdale and
          Feagin (2001) have shown, 3-, 4-, and 5-year-old
          children regularly “do racism,” in the sense that they
          express racialized attitudes including preferring
          members of their own group and stereotyping
          others based on ideas about race.17 These young
          learners do not simply come up with racist ideas on
          their own; rather, they pick them up as participants
          in a racialized society. For this reason, mere counter
          stereotyping is not enough to root out racism and
          discrimination. Educators must engage with the
          larger social contexts and systems institutions that
          perpetuate racialized inequalities.

 is the brief on the Principle on Why Race and Racism must be recognized. The idea that race is only 400 years old seems different from my reading of the Bible and other ancient texts. Never let facts get in the way of a good narrative apparently on the way to reconstructing broader ‘systems’.

    • Given your interests this launched today from our old friend john a powell. Has a section explicitly on education that clearly must have the conceptual framework behind CRT. This essay gives an overview as does this quote from it.

      The history of the United States suggests that policies addressing racial injustice and racial inequality are most successfully pursued in brief but potent spurts. This occurred in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War,2 in the form of a trio of constitutional amendments and a variety of statutes designed to protect freed slaves and their descendants, and at the height of the civil rights movement, when the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Fair Housing Act of 1968, and a constitutional amendment prohibiting poll taxes were each adopted within a four-year period.

      It is too early to determine whether the waves of protests of recent years as part of the Black Lives Matter movement will actually constitute a “racial reckoning” (as the media dubbed it) or not, but awareness of the role of systemic inequality and structural racism appears to be at or near its historical peak, especially among white Americans. This means that the aperture for meaningful policy change has opened. Whether the kinds of reforms and policy changes that will actually address the problem of systemic racism, let alone reduce extreme racial disparities, will materialize is an open question, but it is one of the most important of our time.

      For that reason, it is important to have a sense of the policy landscape for remedying structural racism. Unfortunately, there is no single repository, resource, or organized database of proposed (or adopted) policy recommendations aimed at this problem. Instead, such recommendations can be found in a diverse array of books, edited volumes, reports, platforms, and long-form articles. This project compiles these resources into a single, searchable repository…

      This project is not only meant to help inform policy discussions on race moving forward, but also to identify trends, areas of consensus and dissensus, as well as other interesting findings and observations about these collective efforts.4

      It is, of course, impossible to canvass let alone discover every possible resource pertaining to racial equity, systemic racism, and structural racism, but we are committed to adding to and enlarging our repository over time as new sources become known to us or are produced. This is intended to be both an open-source and highly inclusive repository. The only condition for inclusion is that the source material be explicitly or self-consciously aimed at remedying structural racism and systemic racism or advancing racial equity, and that the material includes policy recommendations, broadly defined.

    • Thanks for telling me Deborah. This came out yesterday. Yet more proof that cultivating the desired consciousness for the revolution is the whole point now of education.

      Note the discussion of why they use the term ‘justice’ instead of social justice and continued misportrayal of the objections to CRT.

      Today in particular seems like an important day to actually know world history as a body of facts and not just varying perspectives. For example, bullies will always take advantage of perceived weaknesses in others’ policies and practices. The media may be able to misportray or simply never cover the antics of the current Administration, but Putin knows what is really going on and its implications.

    • This is the initial post from almost 10 years ago when I recognized that Facing History and Ourselves was actually an SEL program and was changing the nature of the Holocaust to fit its needs to justify the requisite transformational mindset.

      I still watch FHAO, which you may remember both Obamas were involved with back when they still lived in Chicago, and I believe it has a tag. Regardless, they now have courses for professional development reimagining both the Holocaust and Reconstruction in the US after the Civil War to create the desired transformational learning experiences. FHAO is also deeply involved with Danielle Allen’s Educating for American Democracy that essentially combines history and civics to create the desired mindsets. I worked on that all last summer attending webinars for educators online developed for Illinois educators.

      As you can see, came out in 2017. Notice that the Conclusion “Learning to Participate” has an aim we have seen before when I covered Tranzi OBE in my book and that we now see reflected in many school or statewide Portraits of a Graduate:

      Learn about people who have taken action to make the world a more just and compassionate place, and consider the ways we can participate as caring citizens of the world.

      I am almost certain I got something since the Ukrainian invasion on how to incorporate the FHAO cuuriculum to the classroom using their “Head, Heart, Conscience” framework. Can’t remember if it was them directly or someone else recommending that framework. That would fit with that pdf’s Chapter 9 on the Holocaust, in particular, as having the aim to

      Confront the history of the Holocaust, and reflect on the human behavior revealed in the choices of perpetrators, bystanders, resisters, and rescuers.

      Hope that helps. Took yesterday away from computers to do a 5 plus mile hike on trails near the Chattahoochee. Good for my heath physically and emotionally.

    • You may also find this program to be worth the fee of $25. It is tied to the EAD because Danielle Allen is the PI for both.

      Thank you for your interest in being updated on news from the Democratic Knowledge Project (DKP), a civic education provider at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. The DKP launched a new virtual professional development series in 2022 to support deeper civic learning in K-12 classrooms.

      Registration is now open for our workshop on March 15th from 4-6 pm, entitled Truth and Empowerment: Approaches to Teaching Histories of Oppression and Resistance.

      In this workshop, we will explore tools that support teaching students about histories of oppression and resistance in the United States. We’ll outline racial-ethnic identity development, introduce co-processing (an approach to discussing complex topics in the classroom), and explain how unpacking histories of enslavement and genocide can promote engagement and agency in students. We will apply these tools to historical case studies.

      The ‘co-processing’ does sound rather Orwellian, doesn’t it?

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